New Zealand: The North Island

Written by Harold McNeill on January 31st, 2012. Posted in Travelogue

Note: The New Zealand Travelogue series is from a tour Lynn and I made just before Christmas 2009. First posted live to Facebook it is being reposted here along with more photographs taken during the trip.

We have been told that New Zealand is a kaleidoscope of ever-changing scenes and our first three days touring the coastal route north from Auckland to Paihia, then across the top to the West Coast and Tasman Sea, provides ample confirmation.

Along the “car rally” coastal route, new and stunning vista’s greet us as we round each curve and top each hill. Finding a safe place to stop to grab a few pictures is a challenge as their are few road-side view points. Even at that, Lynn is beginning to think I am going to wear out my camera before we even get started. It is indeed a good thing I bought that extra 8 gig card and spare battery.

Along the east coast we see the first samples of lush tropical vegitation that we discover covers much of New Zealand and as we approach Paihia, the South Pacific to the east is filled with thousands of Islands. We could not find a viewpoint at the highest points so grabbed one photo from the Web to give you a sense of the sights we see in an area called the “Bay of Islands”” (Opening Photo of this Post)

As we circle west and cross the Ialand, we continue through rolling farmland before breaking out on the Tasman Coast where we are greeted by sand blows and beaches that show on the map to continue for 100 miles along the west side of the Island. As we have just finished touring along a 1000 miles of coastline in Queensland and New South Wales, we opt to circle south and head back down to Auckland and Rotorua rather than take the beach road north. Even though we only touched a bit of the beach area, we obersved a few abandoned vehicles locked in the sand and destined to become reefs at some point in the future. The warnings were clear, use the beach route at your own risk.

On our way south we spend time in one of the few remaining Kauri Forests and stand beside the largest Kauri tree in existence. It is hard to get a picture of this tree that will do it justice and it is amazing to learn the Maori used to carve sea going boats out of single tree such as this. In the slideshow below, if you look carefully in the undergrowth below the tree you will see Lynn and Harold waving.

Further south as we again enter farmland, we chanced to meet up with a farmer who has worked these rolling hills for nearly 80 years. He is more than will to stop and chat and his diminutive build and easy going style, reminds me so much of my Uncle Ned. I suspect, this older gentleman, as with Uncle Ned, will remain in this farm tending his animals until the day he passes to the great beyond.

Orewa, NZ, 2009



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  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.